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I have suffered with asthma since I was a young child, but over the years I have found that the problem has got slightly worse, especially around the Autumn and Winter months. I have to take a preventer inhaler, but I am keen on doing what I can to help myself and get myself stronger. I previously reviewed the Salitair salt pipe, which has helped me quite a lot, but at about the same time as I bought that, I also bought the Powerbreathe Wellness trainer to try and strengthen my lungs. I had read a lot of positive reviews about it on the internet and was keen to give it a try for myself.
The Powerbreathe works by strengthening the insipirator muscles, the muscles we use to breathe in. This is done by providing resistance as you breathe in. A Gentle version of the Powerbreathe has been successfully used to treat patients with chronic breathing conditions, such as Emphysema and Bronchitis, whereas on the other end of the scale, the "Ironman" version is used by top class athletes and mountain climbers to improve their performance. The version I bought was the "wellness" version, which is green in colour and is suitable for most people, including people with mild asthma, like me.
The Powerbreathe comes in a box, which contains all the things you need to get going. Thankfully, the Powerbreathe is not fiddly to set up, and really only consists of two main parts, which screw together. Also included in the kit is a nose clip (although I never bother with that), some sterilising tablets, a handy storage pouch and a DVD showing how to get the best from the powerbreathe. There is also a basic instruction leaflet in the box to get you started.
It is recommended that you wash and dry the components of the Powerbreathe before first use. As it is made of plastic, it is easy to immerse the two halves in warm water and leave to completely dry on a fluffy towel. The first time you use it, it is best to put it on the lowest resistance level possible, even if this is too easy for you. you change the resistance by turning the bottom part of the powerbreathe to tighten it. There are numbered levels on the side with an arow that you can line up to your desired level. As you get better at doing the exercises, you can turn the level a quarter turn to increse resistance slightly. it is best to get used to completing a level a few times, before turning it.
To get started, you place the mouthpiece, which is like a snorkel mouthpiece, into your moth and gently biting down on it. personally, I find the mouthpiece a bit too big for my mouth and slightly uncomfortable, so much so that it seems to make me dribble a lot when I'm using it, and I have to take it out a couple of times during the breathing exercise. There is a newer model, called the powerbreathe plus, that has a better mouthpiece and I wish I had bought that instead.
You have to make sure that you are breathing properly, as the DVD shows that most people breathe wrong, from their chest as opposed to their diaphragm. If you put your hand on your belly as you breathe, it should go up as you breathe in and down as you breathe out. This is really tricky, as I am used to doing the opposite! You then attempt 30 breaths through the mouthpiece. You have to breathe in sharply, similar to the way you breathe through an inhaler, as you need the strength to open the valve. you can then breathe out slowly and passively before taking a sharp breath in again. This can make you feel a bit dizzy. It is not always possible to do the 30 breath, but you need to try to do as many as possible up to 30.
You need to do 30 breaths in the morning and 30 in the evening. Do not attempt more, as your body needs time to recover from the exercise. I found that I felt a little achey after doing the 30 breaths, but I wasn't in any kind of pain.
You can then wash the Powerbreathe in warm water, or sterilize it with one of the tablets provided, before letting it dry naturally on a towel. it is important to keep it clean as a lot of saliva is produced when you use it! When dry, it can be stored in the plastic pouch.
After 4 weeks, the makers say you will feel a lot stronger and notice a real improvement in your breathing. Now this is where I have to confess: I gave it a go for about a week, but I didn't make time to do it regularly after that, as it can be a bit boring! 30 breaths only takes 5 minutes, but for me, finding 5 minutes in the morning is really hard, as I'm busy getting kids ready for school and haven't really got time to sit puffing into a machine! What i will say though, is that when I do find time to use it, I notice a beneficial effect almost immediately after use, as I feel that I am able to take deeper breaths. Despite this, I haven't noticed any improvement to my peak flow, which remains a puny 350 (apparently the equivalent of a 90 year old woman!).
On the DVD, there is a section where people are doing aerobic exercises whilst using the Powerbreathe. it looks a little too energetic for me!
In conclusion, the Powerbreathe definitely works, If you put the time and effort into using it properly. I definitely intend to make the time for it in my busy routine, as I really do want to improve my asthma symptoms. This is a good complimentary therapy to use in conjunction with inhalers, although I wouldn't stop using my inhaler mediacation any time soon.
I may update this review in a few months if I see any further improvement in my condition.